November 2015

Perception, Memory, and Justice

In the criminal justice system, eyewitness testimony can make or break a case. Yet our eyes can deceive us and memory can be a fickle friend. So how much can we really trust eyewitness testimony?

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The Demands of Morality

This week we're asking about the Demands of Morality -- whether living morally adds or detracts from the goodness of a life.

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Will Innovation Kill Us?

  Arguably, the single greatest threat to our continued existence on this planet is climate change. And we would not be facing this threat were it not for human ingenuity. After a mere two centuries or so of industrialization, our innovative activity on this planet has produced such a quantity of greenhouse gases that we are perilously close to the tipping point when climate change will accelerate on its own power, and nothing we do anymore will be able to stop it. Provided, that is, we don’t have a global nuclear meltdown first.

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The Culture Wars: Phase 2?

Here is a conjecure.  We are by now deep into a new phase of the so-called "culture wars."  The current battles in the culture wars are ased partly on competing and apparently irreconcilable perceptions over the extent of what some see as genuine oppression and others see as merely so-called "oppression."  I was prompted  to this conjecture partly by recent events on various university campuses and partly by some advice I ran across on a Unitarian-Universalist website about how to be effective allies to those with marginalized id

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Why Rubio Is Wrong about Philosophy in 150 Words

"Welders make more money than philosophers.  We need more welders and less philosophers." -- Marco Rubio in the November 10 Republican Debate 1. No.  Philosophy majors make considerably more over the course of their careers than welders.  (Source:  http://nyti.ms/1HwzyH1 ) 2. It should be “fewer philosophers,” not “less philosophers.”  Rubio would know that if he had majored in philosophy.

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A Nietzschean Defense of Ben Carson

How much difference does it make whether Ben Carson stretched the truth about his life story?  Not much, I think.  Before you dismiss me as a “right-wing nut job,” let me state for the record that I am a lifelong Democrat (whose biggest political dilemma at the moment is whether to vote for Hilary or Bernie).  But as a professional philosopher (which I also am) I’m not convinced that what we have learned so far about Carson’s life story disqualifies him for the Presidency. 

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Spinoza

Baruch Spinoza is sometimes called “the father of modernity.”  Spinoza, along with Descartes and Leibniz, is considered on of the great rationalists  of the 16th and 17th centuries.   Of the three of them, Spinoza was philosophically the most radical.  Both Descartes and Leibniz found a place in their systems for something like the traditional Judeo-Christian God, a personal God, who created the rest of us.  Spinoza denied the authority of the Bible, the Judeo-Christian idea of a transcendent God, and opened the door to the secular philosophy of the modern age.  

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Collective Immortality: Living on Through Others

I don't think that the prospect of death saps life of meaning. People dread death, to be sure, especially a premature death. But that does not mean that they want to live forever. But dreading death is consistent with living with purpose and determination, even in the face of death.

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